Author: Florian Villain
Applied in: Winter 2015
University Offers: Bath, Bristol, Imperial College, Loughborough, Southampton
My interest for Aeronautics started with my father -a propulsion engineer- who took me to air shows such as Le Bourget. There, I saw one of the first flights of the A380. Those experiences drew me into this world of fabulous engineering and pushed me to start building model airplanes. My desire to study in this field was confirmed when I helped a professional pilot build his own aircraft. The pride I felt when I saw the plane take off is what set my professional ambition.
Last year, during my free time, I decided to prepare a French exam called the Brevet of Aeronautical Initiation. I completed an optional module called "Aeronautics in English", this exam tested applicants on the five following subjects : knowledge of planes, mechanics and aerodynamics, safety and legal issues, meteorology and history of aeronautics. Of these five subjects, I was particularly interested in the study of aerodynamics and propulsion. I acquired a substantial knowledge of the principles of flight that I applied when piloting a Jodel D112, a RV-4 or a DR400. I have been taking online classes with Khan Academy, where I have learnt about mechanics of fluids and thermodynamics. This independent research proved valuable when I followed an eight week Massive Open Online Classroom given by the French University ISAE-SUPAERO. It allowed me to approach the concepts that I taught myself from a more mathematical perspective. I learnt to use trigonometry applied to aeronautics and acquired an understanding of mechanics when studying the forces that apply to an aircraft. My knowledge was further broadened by attending lectures provided by the Royal Aeronautical Society such as "the History and Development of high Performance sailplanes" or "8 Ton Glider to Auto rotating Helo in twelve Seconds". The former was a retrospective source of information in the progress made on gliders with a unique goal : to increase the ratio Lift/Drag. Also of great interest was the presentation discussing future technologies such as suction surfaces. The second conference was a presentation of the AW609, a twin-engined tiltrotor VTOL aircraft, and the challenges encountered during its conception. It made me realize how tightly bound together the parameters of an aircraft were and how modifying a single one could affect others. Finally, I had the opportunity to visit the Robin Aircraft factory, where I could see all the stages of construction of those handmade aircraft, from Computer Assisted Design to assembly. These numerous experiences gave me a better understanding of the challenges faced by the aeronautical industry.
Being an enthusiastic reader, I profoundly enjoy scientific books that push the understanding of my class lessons and the curriculum further. "L'aspirisouffle" by Jean Pierre Petit, a study of subsonic fluids, inspired me to pursue some independent research on turbofan engines and applied physics. One of the books I read, "Advanced physics for you", taught me a lot about mechanics and waves. With great interest I also follow new areas of research and development in aeronautics, for example the auto repairing wings developed by Bristol University or the seaplanes designed by the Imperial College.
Apart from my academic work, I play squash and run at the Uxbridge Leisure Centre. My interest in sports has taught me tenacity and resilience as I constantly try to improve my performances. I also love trekking in exotic countries which feeds my curiosity and allows me to combine physical effort with a sense of community. I also experienced a similar sense of satisfaction when I spent one week with the Fifth regiment of Combat Helicopters in the French Air Force. While I was there, I learnt how, with great effort I could push myself beyond my expected limits using determination and self discipline. I see this experience as the most enriching I have ever had and think the qualities and values I acquired will be essential for my future at university.